Slough Ready To Take On Europe's Best

Slough team photo from the Indoor England Hockey League (EHL), taken at Whitgift School, 14 December 2008
This weekend Slough embark on their European indoor campaign at the EuroHockey Women's Indoor Club Champions Cup in Madrid.

Slough will take their place in Europe for the sixth time in eight seasons after topping the 2007-08 Indoor England Hockey League Women’s Premier division and winning their 13th National Indoor Hockey Championships title in January 2008, secured courtesy of a 5-2 win over Bowdon Hightown. 

Last February Slough finished fifth in the European Indoor Cup competition and will be hoping to improve on that this season, although in Germany’s Club An Der Alster, Ukraine’s Dinamo Sumchanka and Vympel from Russia, they face some formidable opponents. 

Dinamo Sumchanka will be familiar to the Berkshire team after they beat the Ukrainians 5-3 in Pool B last year before ultimately finishing one place lower than them in the standings, while any meeting with a German side is fraught with challenges.  German sides have won the top European indoor competition for the past 18 years in a clean sweep stretching back to 1991 and Club An Der Alster were European Indoor Champions just two seasons ago, winning the 2007 tournament on home ‘turf’ in Hamburg.

Speaking previously to EH News magazine about the group fixtures, Slough’s Lynnette Smith said, “It is really important that we have a good start to the competition.  Success breeds success so if we are playing well and can get a good result then the group becomes slightly easier.  It is such a hard task to step up to the level of European competition and adjust to different playing styles and umpires.  It is important that we adjust quickly in order to get the most from our first game as we can – in terms of performance and points gained.”

Slough's Alex Scott celebrates a goal against Olton in their semifinal at the National Indoor Championships at the NIA Arena, Birmingham, West Midlands, 25th January 2009.Smith is hopeful that Slough’s ever-increasing experience on the European indoor stage will pay dividends in Madrid: “Each European experience is great for Slough and it is somewhere we want to continue to compete.  It is a fantastic experience and each year we hope to improve on our last performance in the competition.  I think having played in the Cup [the old A Division] last season proved to everyone that there is a fine line between coming away with a medal and being relegated and everyone is keen to get to the semi-final stage and improve on our fifth place of last year.”

Slough open their tournament against Dinamo Sumchanka early on Friday afternoon before taking on the German's Der Club an der Alster at 1600hrs.  If things go well on Friday their game first thing on Saturday against Vympel Korolev could set the team up for a place in the medal cross-over matches on Saturday and Sunday.